The days are numbered for an eclectic little community of tradesmen, start-ups and a community theater operating out of industrial garages at the end of Pear Avenue. Located in the heart of North Bayshore, the row of blue-collar workshops has become the latest site marked for tech-fueled redevelopment and expansion.
The 13 tenants operating out of the site learned in recent days they would have to move out by September. It didn't come as a total surprise, they said. In 2008, the property was acquired by Google, and it seemed a foregone conclusion the company would someday add it to its growing campus.
Reactions span the full spectrum of emotions. For some older owners of longstanding shops, the evictions could lead them to close down for good, given the difficulty in finding a new space. Meanwhile, a handful of businesses, including the Pear Avenue Theatre and a yoga studio, expect to land on their feet and are getting aid from Google in securing a new location.
The news from Google comes as a serious blow for Kevin and Dora Reilly, the married owners of Discount Glass. For 26 years, their glass-replacement shop has operated out of the Pear Avenue space, and they say they face a grim set of prospects for relocating.
Driving his truck back to the shop after a long sweltering day working in Palo Alto, Kevin Reilly was sunburned, tired and had paint flecks covering his face as he finished a 12-hour workday. Standing out in the parking lot, he explained he was paying about $1,800 a month for his Pear Avenue garage, which he acknowledged was a good deal. Mountain View has no comparable space to rent, he said. The best deal he could find was in Sunnyvale at nearly twice the cost, he said. Just the price of moving would be upward of $14,000, he estimated.
"To Google, $14,000 is the cost of one of their dinners over there," he said with an incredulous smirk. "I wish they'd help me with a new space."
To Reilly, Google's handling of the evictions smacks of favoritism. Since his lease expired in 2013, he said he made multiple requests for a renewal. But he was kept on a month-to-month lease. Meanwhile, other tenants did get lease extensions, he said. Reilly described how another tenant with an active lease showed him blueprints for a new space that Google would provide. He questioned why others weren't getting similar help.
"I understand we have to go; I'm not a 2-year-old," Reilly said. "All I'm asking is for them to just be fair to all of us."
Google representatives declined to disclose any specifics on future plans for the site. A Google representative explained that the company was giving assistance to only three tenants with more than a year left on their leases.
Exactly what that aid will be remains unclear because tenants who are receiving help say details are still being worked out. One such tenant is the Center of Balance yoga studio, which has operated on Pear Avenue for 18 years. Owner Karen deMoor said she was acting under a certain degree of trust that Google would take care of her.
"Google has been a good landlord, I'm holding them to their standard of 'Do no evil." she said. "In terms of our situation, I'm trusting the process, I think they're going to do the right thing for us."
Perhaps the highest-profile tenant being relocated is the Pear Avenue Theatre, which has been a curious neighbor for the industrial lot since it opened in 2001. Artistic Director Diane Tasca explained that her 40-seat theater was set next week to begin its last production in the current site -- Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia." She confirmed that with Google's help the theater would move to a new, larger space somewhere in Mountain View, but she said she couldn't provide details. Tasca is planning to make an announcement about the new site later this month.
"I'm very sentimental, and I'm anticipating it's going to be very strange to perform for the last time and to leave the space," Tasca said. "The new location should be an improvement in a number of ways."
Others have no such plans to start anew in a fresh spot. Perhaps the longest-term tenant working out of the site, Dave Herlinger, said he'll probably close down his Corvette repair shop after 34 years of business. It wasn't worth trying to relocate, he said, but he didn't begrudge Google for pushing him out.
"I'd love to say, 'That darn Google, they're forcing me out.' But honestly, they've been good to me," Herlinger said. "It's a lot of work, and I'm getting older. I guess you've got to quit sooner or later."